Concern over Ken Livingstone discussing book at Edinburgh Speakers Festival

Controversial former London mayor Ken Livingstone will offer his vision for Labour's future at the Capital's first speakers festival.

Tuesday, 12th July 2016, 12:45 pm
Updated Thursday, 25th August 2016, 6:45 pm
Former London mayor Ken Livingstone is coming to the Capital. Picture: Getty

The politician – recently suspended from the party amid claims of anti-Semitism – will be in Edinburgh in September to discuss his new book.

The author of Being Red: A Politics for the Future will give an insider’s account of the party when he joins other high-profile speakers for the three-day event at the Augustine United Church on George IV Bridge.

But the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities (SCJC) has expressed concerns over comments made by Mr Livingstone, including his claims that Hitler supported Zionism which saw him suspended from the party in April.

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In 2006, the politician likened a Jewish journalist to a Nazi concentration camp guard and once told Jewish property developers to “go back to Iran and try their luck” – a nation notorious for its 
hatred of Israel.

Speaking ahead of the hard-left politician’s visit to Edinburgh, SCJC director Ephraim Borowski said: “Ken Livingstone’s comments about Jews and the Holocaust continue to give concern.

“One altercation with a journalist might be an accident; a second insult to a Jewish businessman might be a coincidence; but a third historically absurd statement about Zionism, exacerbated by his refusal to apologise or retract, shows that there really is a problem that the Labour Party still needs to address.”

The 71-year-old will give a talk on Friday, September 9 from 1.15pm to 2.30pm.

The festival comes at an interesting time in politics, with many of the leading politicians having agreed to take part before the results of the EU referendum were known.

The Edinburgh Speakers 
Festival takes place from 
September 9-11.

Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson will talk about the books that have had the greatest impact on her life.

Bletchley Park trustee Dermot Turing will offer a fresh perspective on the legacy of his uncle, codebreaker Alan Turing.

Retired MP Tam Dalyell will address the question of 
Scotland after devolution, while journalist John Plender will also trace the history of capitalism, and fellow reporter Ian Fraser charts the downfall of RBS and Fred Goodwin.

Former justice secretary Kenny MacAskill revisits the Lockerbie disaster, discusses the controversy and reveals the real culprits.

Political writer David Torrance will trace the rise of SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon. Joanna Stephens, co-manager of the event, said: “I’m very excited about having a festival that covers so many different interests and appeals to different generations. I am excited about this venue in the heart of Edinburgh next to the National Library and opposite the municipal [Central] library and the Writers’ Museum.”